By The Rabbit Room • December 13, 2019
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I think there is truth in this but it can be taken to an extreme.
Many people find themselves with a calling their community doesn’t understand; history is filled with stories of missionaries rejected by mission boards who had to find an alternative way to get where God was calling them. Or people thrust out of communities because they stood for some truth or righteousness that the community couldn’t endure, who went on to change something major. There are people marginalized in communities either because the community isn’t healthy or is even toxic, or because the community doesn’t value the gifts of women, or because the community is ageist, etc. And multitudes of people are told to stay in bad communities to “help them change” when they have no avenue to do so because they have no clout in those communities, no position of influence, and their gifts are not received. They are better off shaking the dust from their feet.
So I understand what Andrew Peterson/Michael Card is saying, that when all is going well, a community can be indispensable for helping someone to understand their own gifts in context and launch them into where they are meant to go, or even simply be the people that someone needs to find the best way to use their gifts to love a group of people. But for some people finding a community that is even that healthy is almost a dream of utopia — it’s an amazing idea, but for many of us have never panned out to be a reality. But I think all told, God defines our calling, not community, and when a community is healthy and listening to God, they can affirm that calling, or help unveil it, but if our center of gravity is around community instead of God, we can fall prey to whatever errors are in our community instead of humbly having an ear open to them while the other ear is firmly glued to Heaven itself.
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